What is diversity training in the workplace?

April 28, 2021
Kaisa Savola
CEO and Founder

A diverse team is no longer a simple aspiration. It is the cornerstone of a strong and successful business. Thus, organizations of all sizes are increasingly investing resources into training and building comprehensive programs. In fact, 57% of organizations make their diversity training obligatory for all employees.

What is diversity training?

Diversity training is a program designed to create awareness of diversity issues in the workplace, make employees more aware of their own beliefs on diversity, as well as provide skills to help employees interact, collaborate and work more closely with people that have different qualities to their own. In other words, the program should function to maximize every employees’ development and performance and minimize the risks should there be diversity-based discrimination in the workplace.  

The goal of diversity training is to make employees understand that even if there are differences amongst the team members that they are working with, a little adjustment in one’s attitude will make for an extraordinary team. To make employees not only tolerant of the differences that they see around them but to value those differences as a part of successful teams.

Diversity training may be conducted as lectures, slideshows, e-learning courses, interactive games, as well as role-plays. All these methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. However, each method contributes to the awareness in its own way.

Two types of diversity training

There are two types of diversity training, including Awareness-based training, and Skill-based training.

Awareness-based training

This type of training is intended to help employees become aware of the importance of diversity in business. It also assists in drawing employees’ attention to their prejudices and cultural assumptions about others. The training uses case studies and experiential exercises as the method of training implementation.

Skill-based training

This deals with building, developing, and improving employees’ proficiency in handling diversity in the workplace. This training aims to improve employees’ interpretation of cross-cultural differences, communication with people from different cultures, and their adaptability. Various tools can be used to take the employees from the awareness to the proficiency stage.

Why do need to have diversity training?

Diversity does not only include gender, race, disabilities, and the like, but also includes the team’s attitudes, educational differences, personality types, and willingness to take risks. All these differences thus make diversity management in the workplace more complex. Diversity training then can come to the rescue to reiterate the value in appreciating every different perspective and skill set that results from a diverse team. 

Besides, from a business perspective, diversity training is seen to have many benefits such as increased collaboration and relational skills, protecting against violations of discrimination legislation, therefore reducing the firm’s risk profile, and empowering those from underrepresented groups to feel more confident and valued in the workplace. These benefits can further lead to some real financial gains for companies as well. According to research by McKinsey & Co., organizations with diverse workforces are 35% more likely to have above-average profit margins than companies with more homogenous employee bases. It is also reported that diverse companies had nearly two and a half times higher cash flow per employee over three years than non-diverse companies in a study from Bersin by Deloitte.

Overall, it is clear that the importance of diversity training in the workplace is expressed both in the benefit of working together with people of different backgrounds and in building a successful business. Turns out, you can have it all, and diversity training may be the key.

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